In which I learned that I was actually building a boudoir

At some point during the long slog through this upstairs sleeping porch project, maybe while picking out light fixtures for the ceiling, Rachel let me know that this was no ordinary dressing room/storage area/place for clothes and stuff.

It was to be a fancy boudoir.

And though I nixed the idea of dual chandeliers in favor of some flush mount lamps and a practical ceiling fan, I’d say that it still turned out pretty nice, though I’m not totally sure that it qualifies as a “fancy boudoir” as it was requested to me late in the process.

But yes, in what turned out to be the 11th hour before Lily arrived, I finished up the last of the details for the sleeping porch closet area…er…boudoir. On the day Rachel ended up going into labor, I raced home to install one of the two light fixtures that had arrived and hopefully get to the ceiling fan as well.

I had to settle for just getting the light fixture up a few hours before we went to the hospital. And my father-in-law was a huge help when the family was all here the week after Lily was born, helping me to finish the fan and also do the closet shelving which we planned and pieced together ourselves from the DIY ClosetMaid pieces at Home Depot.

There are still some little details, like the ugly windows into the house that are still yellow-green and the new exterior windows that still need to be painted and cased. (Still waiting to finish casing the windows on the downstairs porch a year later too…)

But the porch is otherwise finished and looking pretty good! The nearly finished product:


So looking back, what all did we have to do to get to this point?

Of course, there was a time when there was no wall on the back of the house at all. We tore off the metal siding and discovered zero framing on the house back in November 2010 — just wainscoting with siding over it and zero insulation. So we reframed the back of the house and put in new windows, along with proper sheathing and insulation.

Exterior 1st and 2nd floor rear

For most of the last year and a half, we made do with Ikea wardrobes, an old area carpet over a gross linoleum floor, and a room that was less than appealing to use. Unfortunately for Rachel, this was her dressing area and closet.

Sleeping porch north second floor
Finished wall

Back in April, I started the project by building a closet at each end of the porch.


The closet on the north end needed a bit more work since the plywood separating our house from the studs and drywall of the other house had to be removed and replaced with a new wall first before making the second, smaller closet.

DSC_0082DSC_0084North sleeping porch closet

Then, the ceiling had to be insulated, and I turned to a DIY spray foam kit to fill the cavities. It worked great, though it certainly made a terrific mess.

Porch ceiling before insulationDSC_0009

In this next photo, you can see the old gross linoleum floor. The linoleum was laid down over a fiber backing, and under that on the 3 feet or so closest to the back wall was some serious sheet metal (tin?) laid down on the floor to protect from the elements back when this was open, I’m sure. (See second photo of rolls of metal.) So the linoleum had to come up, all the backing, and then the heinous metal sheets. I had to buy some new aviation snips and Dremel metal cutting wheels to get these things off the floor. In hindsight, I should have done all this before I put down the baseboards — would’ve made things much easier.

2nd floor sleeping porch south
Old sleeping porch metal floor

We found some decent wood planking under all of this, but we decided to put carpet down in here to soften the room a little bit (much like a fancy boudoir!) and also provide us with at least one carpeted room that little kids can crawl around on. I got a great deal on some pretty cheap carpet at a place on 14th Street in Midcity, the one that used to be next to the post office at T Street. They came and knocked it out in a day, after I had finished painting the ceiling and touching up the walls. (Oh, that first picture, you can see the nasty floor after I’d taken everything up.

Carpet in north wide

Then, the closet doors went back on, the closet shelving went in, and a couple of light fixtures went up. Voila!


Long story about the fixtures: There’s supposed to be two matching fixtures on either side of the fan, but the one we liked turned out to be discontinued and every place online that says they have them available doesn’t really, they just let you order items that aren’t stocked in their warehouse and then they call the manufacturer to actually get some and they find out that they’re discontinued. And they’re probably all drop-shipping them, which means that they ship directly from the manufacturer and don’t even pass through the seller’s hands. Annoying.

I ordered two from Lighting New York a month or more ago, they called me (after about two weeks! — what kind of mickey mouse logistics department do they run there?) and said they only had one and asked if I’d still like that one or a total refund. Because I had seen them on Amazon recently for just a little more money, I told them to go ahead and send the one. I ordered the second one from Amazon. It came in 2 days. Then Lighting New York calls me another week later and tells me that they don’t have any, sorry! I go back to Amazon, and now, of course, they’re out too. So now I only have one fixture and everyone else that has them says “ships in 10-14 days,” which really means that they don’t actually have any and will call me back with the same news every time. So this one is probably coming down, going on Ebay, and we’ll have to pick out a new one elsewhere.

Relatedly, do you know how hard it is to find a flush mount 3-bulb fixture that isn’t what we like to call a nipple lamp? Rounded glass with the little screw in the center. It’s a terrible look, but that’s why we liked this one so much — it’s round but also squared off for a different look.

Anyway, the closets are full of clothes and the furniture is in place for the most part and the long porch project is basically at an end. I’m hoping to get these windows done sometime soon when I go on delayed leave from work in another week or two. (The one part of this story I’m leaving out is the roof hatch, which deserves it’s own post.)

Let’s look back one more time at the before and after of our upstairs sleeping porch. (First “before” is from the first day we were shown the house.)

Pre-closing: sleeping porch

Sleeping porch north second floor

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